San Francisco Environment Department Awarded $320,000 To Expand Innovative Prevention-Centered Pest Management Program 


This is the second grant from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to fund the Environment Department’s efforts to reduce both pest and pesticide exposure risks for residents in affordable housing.


San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco Environment Department (SFE) received a second grant award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to expand its prevention-centered integrated pest management model for affordable housing in the city. The DPR Alliance Grants Program provides funding for projects that promote the adoption of effective, proven, and affordable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices that reduce risks to public health and the environment. SFE’s program will improve IPM in affordable housing by focusing on prevention, pest-proofing, and ongoing training for managers and maintenance staff, which reduces the need for pesticides and improves health outcomes in vulnerable populations. 

“Pests threaten the health of our vulnerable residents, but relying solely on toxic pesticides is not the answer. This program protects the health of people and the environment by reducing pests and pesticides and expanding effective prevention measures,” said Tyrone Jue, Director of San Francisco’s Environment Department.

Pest infestation concerns continually make headlines, like New York City’s infamous “pizza rat.” But pests—from rats and mice to cockroaches and bedbugs—are a critical health problem in cities. Traditional pest control has relied exclusively on the routine, blanket application of pesticides—a short-term approach that can be as problematic as the pests themselves. Pesticides do not work in the long term, forcing repeated applications that further exacerbate health risks of already vulnerable populations through increased exposure to toxic chemicals. In contrast, Integrated Pest Management focuses on pest prevention, utilizing a more judicious, directed pesticide application only as needed, which protects vulnerable populations from exposure and is more effective.

San Francisco’s Prevention-Centered IPM Model is one of the most comprehensive IPM programs in the nation, based on physically excluding pests from structures, which reduces both pests and pesticide use for the life of the building. The program features novel training approaches for maintenance staff conducted both in-person, as well as through a catalog of video resources to accommodate staffing changes and time constraints. Detailed recommendations are provided to property managers on pest-proofing practices and de-cluttering. Additional educational materials include pest prevention inspection protocols and unit-by-unit pest monitoring procedures, such as universal inspections of all apartments and common areas, and specialized inspections of structural issues that may contribute to pest problems. The program also includes a half-day IPM training for affordable housing property managers. 

By leading with prevention and ongoing learning, SFE’s IPM approach also makes economic sense. Up front maintenance to seal holes, remove harborage under cabinets, and more thorough and consistent inspections decreases pest management costs in the long run and saves housing providers money. Most importantly, the approach reduces pesticide and pest exposure for San Franciscans, helping to mitigate risks of asthma and other adverse health effects.  

“SFE’s research has shown that our IPM tactics have been effective at reducing pest infestations,” said Sraddha Mehta, Community Partnerships and Engagement Program Manager. “We are excited to expand the program to more affordable housing developments, where many of San Francisco’s residents who are most vulnerable to health risks from pests and pesticides live.”

The first DPR Award SFE received in 2019 for $160,000 studied SFE’s outstanding IPM pest prevention outcomes. The results of that grant-funded study were so successful, the Department was able to secure an Alliance Grant for its Prevention-Centered Model.



Contact information

Joseph Piasecki, joseph.piasecki@sfgov.org